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Why LGBT families may have unique estate planning needs

Estate planning is necessary for many types of couples, if not most. For example, a couple with an adult child who is disabled probably wants to ensure the child is always taken care of. Someone entering into a second or third marriage might want to ensure children from the first marriage receive certain assets and so on.

However, estate planning can be even more important for many LGBT families. Here is a look at why some of their needs are different from those of heterosexual families:

Lack of legal ties

An LGBT couple may decide to bring a child into the world together. For example, in a lesbian couple, one spouse could get pregnant, or in a gay couple, one of the men might enlist the help of a female surrogate friend. The resulting child(ren) might end up having no legal ties to one of the parents, which can create issues when it comes to determining legal heirs. Thus, the estate planning process for quite a few LGBT couples entails one of them adopting a child he or she may have already lived with for years.

A couple may also have been together a long time, decades even, but only recently was legally able to marry. The partners might want to ensure property or other assets they acquired before they were married can go to the other spouse, if applicable. A similar principle applies if they remain unmarried.

Family objections

Another estate planning issue can happen when family members object to a decision their LGBT relative or his or her spouse has made. And, unfortunately, when it comes to areas such as medical power of attorney, emotions may run even higher than usual. A parent who does not agree with a daughter-in-law or son-in-law's decision to stop something such as life support might be more likely to challenge the decision when it comes to same-sex relationships. Some members of the LGBT community have been estranged from their parents and others in their families for years, and careful estate planning ensures all aspects are covered.




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